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Humanitarian aid cuts could cost lives
February 23, 2011

Humanitarian aid cuts could cost lives
Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
Letter from Humanitarian CEOs to House Leadership
The humanitarian accounts support life-saving programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan for people displaced by conflict and natural disasters, for 1.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and for refugees who have returned home to Afghanistan to rebuild their country. A failure to help meet the needs of these populations would undermine U.S. goals in the region at a critical moment.
(Washington, D.C.) February 23, 2011 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and other organizations have sent a letter to the Leadership of the U.S House of Representatives regarding the deep cuts to humanitarian assistance in recent budget proposals. The letter was faxed yesterday afternoon to the offices of Representatives Boehner, Cantor, Pelosi, Rogers, Dicks, Granger, Lowey, Ros-Lehtinen, Berman, Kingston, and Farr.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

It is shocking to imagine that in the next major global humanitarian crisis – the next Haiti, Tsunami, or Darfur – the United States might simply fail to show up. Yet that is the very real risk posed by H.R. 1. The bill cuts global disaster aid by 67%, global refugee assistance by 45%, and global food relief by 41% relative to FY10 enacted levels. Addressing the drivers of the national debt is wise. Abruptly reducing US humanitarian commitments in order to save less than one quarter of one percent of total discretionary spending is not. These cuts would imperil the longstanding US commitment to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance for those threatened by disaster and conflict.

The United States has — with strong bipartisan support — long been the backbone of worldwide humanitarian response. This U.S. leadership saves hundreds of thousands of lives each year. With the fiscal year nearly half over, the move to halve U.S. humanitarian budgets would leave the U.S. without even a minimal level of humanitarian operating resources for the rest of the fiscal year. This could potentially cost many lives:

• Without additional funding, the U.S. will be unable to respond to major new emergencies. If a natural disaster strikes, a drought turns into a famine, or a new civil war breaks out somewhere in the world, America will be forced to stay home while the rest of the world struggles to cover for our sudden absence.

• The reduced funding for U.S. food assistance in H.R. 1 would decimate America's capacity to respond to a worsening drought in the Horn of Africa. Following several weak rain cycles, this region stands on the verge of a famine that could push more than seven million people towards starvation. This would badly undermine a region whose stability is a significant strategic priority for the United States.

• The humanitarian accounts support life-saving programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan for people displaced by conflict and natural disasters, for 1.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and for refugees who have returned home to Afghanistan to rebuild their country. A failure to help meet the needs of these populations would undermine U.S. goals in the region at a critical moment. 

• Funds from the humanitarian accounts provide the vast majority of America’s support to Darfur as well as substantial support to the future state of South Sudan. The cuts in H.R. 1 would put hundreds of thousand of Sudanese lives at risk, just as the country embarks on the fragile process of North-South separation.

• HR1 would slash USAID's disaster risk reduction (DRR) funding, which saves lives and money by reducing the humanitarian impact of disasters. Without this kind of smart investment, the U.S. will ultimately have to spend far more money responding to crises after the fact — as we recently saw in Haiti.

Such outcomes would be devastating – for the world’s refugees and conflict victims, for U.S. interests, and for the United States' standing and reputation as a global leader.

Effective humanitarian response requires up-front funds in order to support life-saving activities during the onset of an emergency. For this reason it is urgent that the humanitarian accounts receive full funding now rather than be patched up with supplemental appropriations later in the fiscal year. We would also stress that robust humanitarian funding should not come at the expense of other international poverty reduction and development accounts. We strongly urge that House leadership work to increase the International Disaster Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and Title II Food Aid accounts to FY 2010 enacted levels as the budget process moves forward.

Sincerely,

Rudolf Maier, President, ADRA International

Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service

Daniel Wordsworth, President and CEO, American Refugee Committee

Dr. Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO, CARE 

Ken Hackett, President ,Catholic Relief Services

David A. Weiss, President and CEO, CHF International

Anne Lynam Goddard, President and CEO, ChildFund International

Rev. John McCullough, CEO, Church World Service

David Evans, President, Food for the Hungry

Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Nancy A. Aossey, President and CEO, International Medical Corps

Farshad Rastegar, CEO, Relief International

Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director, Resolve

Charles MacCormack, President and CEO, Save the Children

William F. Schulz, President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Lavinia Limon, President and CEO, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women’s Refugee Commission

Richard Leach, President and CEO, World Food Program — USA

Dr. Karl Eastlack, President and CEO, World Hope International

Richard Stearns, President World Vision

Dr. Arthur B. Keys, President and CEO, International Relief 

A. Barry La Forgia, Executive Director, International Relief and Development Teams

George Rupp, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee

Fr. Michael A. Evans, S.J., National Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Dr. Mujahid Al-Fayadh, President and CEO, Life for Relief & Development

John A. Nunes President, and CEO, Lutheran World Relief

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps

Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International


Cc:

The Honorable Harold Rogers, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Norm Dicks, Ranking Member, House Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Kay Granger, Chairwoman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations

The Honorable Nita Lowey, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations

The Honorable Jack Kingston, Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture

The Honorable Sam Farr, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture

The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Honorable Howard Berman, Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs



Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946